An international team of astronomers has reported the discovery of a massive structure consisting of at least 20 giant galaxies. This structure, called the “tendril of the universe,” is approximately 13 million light-years in diameter. The findings were detailed in his paper published Nov. 8 on the preprint server arXiv. The large, dense structures of galaxies are thought to be precursors to galaxy clusters, the most massively gravitationally bound systems in the universe. Therefore, the discovery of new structures of this type and their detailed study are fundamental to understanding the formation and evolution of galaxies. A team of astronomers led by Shuowen Jin from the Technical University of Denmark has discovered a new object of this kind, a large structure resembling a vine, hence the name Cosmic Vine. This structure was discovered at redshift 3.44 in the Extended Grotto Band (EGS) region observed by JWST. The observations were supplemented by data from the Hubble Space Telescope (HST).
According to observations, the cosmic vine is a very long and large structure, about 13.04 million light-years long and 650,000 light-years wide. Therefore, for redshifts above 3.0, this structure becomes significantly larger than other compact galaxy groups or protoclusters. The study revealed that the Cosmic Vine consists of at least 20 massive galaxies and six ultradense galaxies, with a total mass of 260 billion solar masses. The two most massive galaxies in this structure, called Galaxy A and Galaxy E, are inactive (star formation rates less than 0.5 solar masses per year) and have a bulge-dominated morphology. According to the paper, this result suggests that cosmic vines are on their way to forming galaxy clusters. Researchers believe that when Galaxy E enters the cluster’s center later in cosmic time, it will become the brightest galaxy in the cluster.